Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Benefit Charge?

A Benefit Charge is part of a two-part funding system that helps ensure growing communities maintain high quality fire and life safety services. The fee is included in your property tax, payable to King County. On your tax statement, it is identified as a "Fire Fee". The fee is based on factors that provide equity in the cost distribution to taxpayers, such as square footage of structures on their parcel and the fire risk of the occupancy of the building. As an example, a commercial office building will have a smaller Benefit Charge than an industrial location that houses flammable chemicals, even if the buildings have the same assessed value.

What are all the factors that determine my Benefit Charge?

Category Factor: data based on building use and size. Information is gathered from the King County Tax Accessor database.

Fire Flow Factor: the relative cost of providing the required fire flow per gallon during a fire.

Effective Response Factor: related to the size of force in firefighters and equipment needed to deliver the required fire flow.

Hazard Factor: the degree of risk caused by the use, processing, or storage of hazardous materials in or around the structures.

What do I do if my Benefit Charge appears to be incorrect?

If you feel that your Benefit Charge was somehow calculated incorrectly, you may file a petition here at Just verify your parcel and start the Petition for Adjustment of the Benefit Charge process.

How does the Benefit Charge help the average homeowner?

As our population grows, the Benefit Charge provides a continued level of dependable fire and life safety services by maintaining well trained and equipped firefighters, fully staffed stations, and stations in areas that reduce response times to best serve you. Additionally, you now have a regular voice in the organization, including the Benefit Charge, giving you greater control over the cost of your fire and life safety services.

Who establishes the Benefit Charge and what does it cover?

The 1974 Washington State Legislature passed RCW 52.18, which provided that Fire Districts, with the approval of the voters in the district, are authorized to collect a benefit charge from real and personal property. A similar statute was subsequently passed as part of the legislation authorizing Fire Authorities under RCW 52.26 (see specifically RCW 52.26.180 – .270). This law allows regional fire authorities to impose benefit charges which shall be reasonably proportioned to the measurable benefits received by the property resulting from the services provided by a regional fire authority. This is referred to as a “benefit charge”.

How long is the benefit charge good for?

Every six years voters have the opportunity to reauthorize the Benefit Charge with majority voter approval.

Have additional questions? Contact us